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Posted 9/12/2018

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By Mark Haviland
Norfolk District Public Affairs


NORFOLK -- Employees at the Norfolk District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, joined millions along the East Coast this week as they prepared for the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

Working with local, state and federal agencies, the District implemented actions in its hurricane response plan to help protect the health and safety of Virginians, and minimize the risk of flooding and damage at its project sites throughout the Commonwealth.

Emergency Operations/Assistance

In conjunction with Governor Ralph Northam’s declaration of a state of emergency for Virginia, the Norfolk District activated its Emergency Operations Center in Richmond to facilitate close coordination with state and federal agencies on pre- and post-storm activities.

District facilities located within Zone A have been closed.

Operations and Navigation

In anticipation of sustained heavy rain and potential flooding conditions, the District opened wicket gates at Lake Drummond, located within the Dismal Swamp. The lake’s water level has been lowered to 4.48 feet from its normal level of 5 feet, 4 inches.  This lower level allows the lake to accept larger quantities of rainwater, lessening the chances of flooding.

Additionally, the Dismal Swamp Canal water levels have been reduced to allow for additional water storage and conveyance capacity within the canal.

The Dismal Swamp Canal closes to navigation Sept. 12, following the 1:30 p.m. locking.

The Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal will close to navigation at noon Sept. 12 in conjunction with the closure of the Port of Virginia. 

The Lake Drummond Reservation will be closed to visitors at 4 p.m. Sept. 12.

District hydrologists are continuously monitoring weather conditions that impact Gathright Dam and Lake Moomaw near Covington, Va. The lake is currently below the full conservation lake level of 1582 feet above sea level and the lake’s full flood capacity is available  This provides an additional 25 percent more flood control capacity than normal. The release from the dam is currently 240 cubic feet per second and will be reduced to its minimum level of 150 cfs if downstream flooding is forecast.

The District assists the U.S. Coast Guard's Captain of the Port in reconstitution of the Port of Virginia, with crews ready to identify and remove hazards that may impact military, commercial, and recreational vessels returning to the Port. To support this, the Norfolk District’s Operations Branch completed pre-storm surveys of the on the James River (Goose Hill Shoal) and Norfolk Harbor 50-foot channel.  Additionally, a District employee is embedded with the U.S Coast Guard operations center to identify potential port issues associated with the storm.

At the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area in Portsmouth, Va., District employees drained water out of the cells, and secured or moved all equipment to higher ground.

Military Project Sites
Resident engineers at installations throughout Virginia secured and covered work materials, secured all cranes and lifting equipment, inspected stormwater erosion and sediment control structures/devices, and filled in any open excavations. 

Civil Works Project Sites
District project managers began communicating with project sponsors last week to complete pre-storm inspection checklists for storm damage reduction projects such as the Virginia Beach Coastal Storm Damage Reduction Project, the Norfolk and Richmond floodwalls, Sandbridge beach, Tangier Island and Buckroe Beach in Hampton.